New York City, the epicenter of basketball‘s cultural legacy, played host to a spectacular celebration of the sport at the 2023 Nike World Basketball Festival. Held at Lincoln Center on the weekend of September 15th and 16th, this event was both a two-day tournament and an art exhibition. Competing were eighty of the best high school basketball players, with equal representation from both girls and boys, traveling from twenty-three different states and three countries. Meanwhile, one of the event’s standout contributions was a centrally-showcased sculpture of oxidized steel created by the renowned New York Sunshine artist, John Margaritis — winner of THE DESIGN PRIZE 2021 in the category of ‘distribution.’
‘If running is the heart of Nike, then basketball has always been Nike’s soul,’ says Scott Uzzell, Vice President and General Manager of Nike North America. ‘There’s no place like New York City to witness basketball’s deep connection to culture. And that influence grows as the global game continues to grow.’
While the tournament was undoubtedly a highlight, the 2023 Nike World Basketball Festival was about more than just slam dunks and three-pointers. Nike partnered with Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts to establish year-round access to the arts for local youth. This initiative included a substantial $2 million grant aimed at making the arts accessible to tens of thousands of young people across New York City’s five boroughs.
The festival served as the culmination of a series of VS tournaments that had taken place earlier in the summer in cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, and Toronto. However, it was much more than a mere showcase of young talent. It was a celebration of the profound cultural influence that basketball has had and continues to exert on society